I didn’t leave the apartment until just after 10am, but worse than that I hadn’t counted on the single tracking on Metro Subway which meant that the trains were coming at 20-30 minute intervals meaning any semblance of schedule I thought I had was now completely shot.
I arrived at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore at 11:20am having officially missing enrichments for the lions\hornbills (10:30am) and polar bears\otters (11am). Fortunately, I had a good half hour after leaving the tram (which every parent in line insisted on calling a “train”) to get lunch (which was actually edible this time) before the next animal enrichment.
There was no line in their food court area so I arrived at the warthog exhibit nearly 10 minutes before their enrichment\keeper chat was slated to begin. Every parent who whizzed past the small enclosure helpfully asked their kids: “where is Pumbaa? Oh, I see him, over there! He’s behind that bush!”
The invariable spousal follow-up which got wittier and wittier each time I heard it was “Yeah, but where’s Timon?” Ha! Get it? Timon and Pumbaa from the The Lion King, see isn’t that just the funniest joke ever? For the record, the zoo does not have a meerkat exhibit.
Today’s enrichment was a brown paper bag filled with various fruits. Not the most creative enrichment in the world, but I guess it’s better than just throwing it away. BTW, the bag lasted all of ten seconds and our keeper kept the chat going by throwing some additional fruit into the enclosure while she was talking.
That was fun, but what is the next enrichment? Leopards at 1:30pm – that means I have an hour and 27 minutes to kill. I walked through the giraffe house, took some photos of the bloom around rock island, bought a basket of nachos, and rode the real zoo train (which according to a guest behind me who told her daughter that the train is operated by the “conductor” rather than the engineer like most trains). I still had twenty minutes left over, which was too long to sit idly on a bench…but nowhere near enough time to wander through “The Maryland Wilderness.”
I meander over to the leopard cage, stopping to watch the animals around the “African Watering Hole” where a boy about 5-6yrs old insisted that those hippos lying near the side wall of the enclosure. His mom tried to correct him that they were in fact rhinos, but he was adamant those were hippos until one of them raised their head and he shouted “Whoa, look they’ve got HORNS! Those are RHINOS!”
I was going to walk through the aviary… but why ruin a good sweatshirt (that already smelled like giraffe shit)?
I stood around the leopard pen for a bit, the male (“Hobbes”) was asleep on the grass near the north fence, and his mate was along the fence closest to us. One guest repeatedly asked his three year old son if he could see the “cheetahs” (which were in another enclosure), while a 3 year old boy on the other side of me shouted “JAG-WAR” (jaguars are native to Central\South America, hence not found on an “African Expedition”)?
Hobbes however popped his head up when the keeper jumped over the outer fence and followed her back to the enclosure entrance, the female (whose name I can’t recall) remained asleep until she heard the enclosure door open. The keeper put the cats into holding pens and gave a brief spiel about their names and histories, and then put the two paper bags in front of the large tree and in the logs where visitors could see them before going back to retrieve the cats.
Hobbes took all of 30 seconds to find, devour and destroy the paper bag at the front of the exhibit. His female companion took a nonchalant stroll around the perimeter of the enclosure before finally ripping into the bag at the foot of the tree, but that too was gone in a matter of seconds.
I looked at my map. The next show was at 2:30pm in the Chimpanzee Forest. That left me with one question – do I stay the extra 57 minutes to see what the monkeys do with their paper bags…or do I make my way towards the exit?